Frostbite-Chapter 55

For a long time she just wondered what to do next. It had seemed so simple, back in the fire tower. She would find Powell, convince him that they needed each other. Then they would run off into the horizon together. Find some way to survive, together.

Without him she was doomed to an eternity alone. Trying her best to do what he had done, to get as far away from people as she could so she didn’t end up killing them. It seemed like the worst possible fate she could imagine. Was it really so much better than taking the way out Bobby wanted for her, one quick silver bullet to the head?

She was supposed to have died on the Yellowhead Highway. Lycanthrope kills two in bloody road rampage, no survivors—that was one way it was supposed to have played out. She had thought many times that she might have, well, actually, preferred it. The guilt of surviving her father’s death, the blankness and trauma and fear and depression and unhappiness that followed, the sleeplessness that had defined her life—none of those things would have had to happen. If she died now, if somebody killed her twelve years after the fact, things would still balance out. In their own bad way. Chey knew she understood very little about the universe, but she knew that things coming to a bad end was not unheard of. That sometimes happy endings were too much to ask for.

Lycanthrope kills two.


She didn’t like that ending. She had worked so hard. Sometimes without focus, sometimes to no point, but she had worked hard. She had jumped out of a fire tower and survived the fall. She had convinced her uncle to do something he hated. She had tattooed a wolf ’s paw on her breast to steal some of Powell’s strength.

No, she wouldn’t stop now. She wouldn’t die.

She ran out to where Pickersgill still lay dead in the parking lot. She searched his pockets, and found the handcuff key and spent a long frustrating while figuring out how to unlock the cuffs. With them off she felt minutely better. More free, at least. She dropped them to the ground and stood up, chafing at her wrists where they’d been abraded when Powell dragged her into the warehouse.

Before she could plan her next move she heard the helicopter coming toward her. Almost certainly coming around to look for what had happened to Bruce. Its chopping noise was almost deafening in the perfect silence of that dead place. It circled the warehouse a couple of times, then slowed to a stop in midair and just hovered there for a while.

Then, slowly, as if feeling its way down through the night, the helicopter sank through the air. Coming down for a landing.

“Shit,” she said, and dashed inside the corroded warehouse. Pressing her back up against a wall, she peered out into the darkness, wondering what she would do if Bobby found her there. He would try to kill her if he saw her. He wouldn’t hesitate. Her only chance would be to strike first. But would she really be able to kill him?

You’re a monster, she told herself. That’s what monsters do.

She found it hard to convince herself.

So far she’d killed two men, the Pickersgill brothers. The first time it had been her wolf who did the dirty work. The second time she’d just been trying to get free of the light post.

It occurred to her she might feel a little more confident with a weapon in her hand. She cast about, looking for anything, and found a short length of rusted rebar. It would make an adequate club. Then she crouched down in the shadows and waited.

The helicopter blew dust high up into the air as it settled gently to the ground. Its door popped open and Bobby jumped out. He rushed over to Pickersgill’s corpse and bent low over it.

Chey was faster than he was. She could run out there right now while his back was turned and lay Bobby’s skull open before he could even turn around, she thought. That would solve some problems. It would make her free.

Then she saw the gun in his hand. No doubt it was full of silver bullets. If she made more noise than she thought, if she tripped on her way toward him, if she gave him even the slightest moment to realize she was there—he could turn and shoot her.

She shifted her grip on the iron bar and tried to think of what to do.

Then he turned and looked right at her and her blood froze.

In a second he would raise his gun. He would aim at her and fire. Her muscles tensed and she got ready to pounce. She would have one chance, maybe, one fragment of a moment to jump before he fired. Her skin itched with the need to move, to leap—

—except before she could make the move, he turned around again and walked back to the helicopter. Climbed in and made an impatient gesture. The aircraft lifted off the ground again and flew off.

He hadn’t seen her at all. He’d looked into the warehouse, but in the dark his human eyes hadn’t seen her.

Chey let out a long desperate exhalation. That had been too close.

She couldn’t stay in the warehouse, she knew. It wasn’t far enough from Pickersgill’s body. Bobby may not have been willing to check the place out himself, but he might send Balfour to do it. Balfour, who was the scariest of the three brothers, the “shootist.”

If she was going to survive she had to find another place to hide.

She looked down at Port Radium and saw the pond full of castoff machines corroding away in their polluted bath. Down there, certainly, there would be something.

Chey raced down the hill as quickly as she could manage. At one point her feet went out from under her and she rolled part of the way, dust and mud flecking her face, getting in her mouth, gravel pattering through her hair, stinging her eyes, but then she was up again, moving again. She splashed out into water that felt all wrong, thicker, stranger than water. Muck bloomed in great rolling clouds wherever she disturbed the surface and a bad saline stink came up to make her choke, a disused, decayed smell, wholly inorganic and asphyxiating. She coughed up bloody phlegm and spat it into the ripples around her legs. She pressed on.

Check out the previous chapters of Frostbite right here.

Excerpted from Frostbite: A Werewolf Tale by David Wellington. Copyright © 2009 by David Wellington. Published in the Unites States by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Published in the UK as Cursed by Piatkus Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group.

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